I had planned a walk in the Sperrins, taking in Dart and Sawel. The weather however dictated otherwise and no amount of looking at the forecast made the certainty of a severe downpour over the Sperrins go away. The Antrim Hills seemed set to suffer the same fate, with only the Mourne area having any likelihood of periods of dry weather. Wanting to keep the journey time to a minimum I opted for a walk around the Slieve Croob that I fancied doing for some time.
Slieve Croob and its smaller companions are instantly recognisable and for me herald that moment when the city has been left behind and the mountains await. A glance at Slieve Croob can also give some indication of the weather to be expected in the Mournes, cloud level and visibility for instance. To relegate Slieve Croob to a weather gauge though would be to do it an injustice. Slieve Croob and those that surround it are ‘big little mountains’, the feeling of being small in a big place can definitely be found here, and these hills are both nice to look at and nice to look from.
Starting at the car park on Dree Hill just on the road out of the village of Finnis I started off on a clockwise circuit taking in the summits of Slieve Croob, Slievenisky, Slievegarran and Cratlieve. The area has many fascinating features giving a glimpse of life in the area over the last 5000 years.
With the overcast weather and being unable to put my hand to a camera, instead grabbing a few snaps on my phone camera (from inside its waterproof case) I wasn’t able to do the area much justice. Nevertheless I thought it might be of interest to some folk and may serve as an idea for a future walk for someone else.
I was fortunate to not encounter any rain all day, although the cloud hung just level with the summit of Slieve Croob for most of the day, giving only brief glimpses of the view towards the Mournes for which Slieve Croob has a strong reputation. The wind at the top of Slieve Croob was strong, much like the last time I visited it. I really should try it some time other than February!
Looking towards Slievenisky and Slievegarran
Looking back on Slieve Croob
Another view towards Slievegarran, looking along a ridge on Slievenisky
I followed the ridge line off Slievenisky down towards the Slieve Croob Inn which is noted on the map. Now I know that this had closed some time ago but as I looked down at it I could see a number of cars parked. The thoughts of a mid-walk pint sent me on a direct course towards the inn. As I got closer the sight of picnic tables out the front and a newly constructed style raised my expectations that the inn had reopened. Once in the car park I was disappointed to find no clear public entrance and a sign out the front confirmed that the buildings had reopened but this time as a “private village”. Still it was nice to see a rural business that appeared to be doing well and hopefully providing some employment in the area.
Back to the original plan I continued on to find somewhere sheltered from the wind to have my lunch. And so it was, after a short walk along some minor roads and a short climb I was soon sat on the slopes of Slievegarran where I stopped to take in the view over a cuppa.
The view back towards Slievenisky
Looking SE from the summit of Slievenisky
This ruined farm dwelling not far from the summit of Slievegarran is possibly the most rugged place someone could have lived.
On the map Slievegarran is covered with linear lines, I feared these would be fences but they were, to my reflief old walls that demarcated farm holdings.
Standing stone between Slievegarran and Cratlieve
After seeking permission from a farm I used the lane way that ascends beyond Legananny Dolmen to access the slopes of Cratlieve. From there it was a short burst up and over the hill before descending back down to the starting point.
View from Cratlieve with Slievenisky and Slievegarran from L to R.
Once I got back to car I drove a few more minutes to reach the Finnis Souterrrain, known locally as Binder’s Cove. the last time I visited here was after a period of very heavy rain and I was unable to progress far into the tunnel system. This time I was able to get further. I was able to access a large tunnel to the right of the main passageway. Again flooding prevented me from gaining access to the whole system. Perhaps a summer visit is called for.
Map showing route (excluding visit to Finnis Souterrain).
It was a great day out and somewhere I’d recommend to anyone.
Original link here
With thanks to WhoRya